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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 February 2007, 18:34 GMT
MSP sorry for xenophobia comment
Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond called for an apology over the remarks
A Liberal Democrat MSP has apologised after calling the Scottish National Party (SNP) "xenophobic".

Jamie Stone made the comments in a BBC interview at the Liberal Democrats Scottish conference in Aviemore.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said Mr Stone had "crossed a line" and demanded an apology from the party.

Earlier, Scottish Lib Dem leader Nicol Stephen had said the election campaign would be bitter but there would be no name-calling from his party.

Mr Salmond called Mr Stone's comments "unacceptable".

He added: "Nicol Stephen, in his speech, called for no name calling but within minutes one of his senior MSPs launches this outrageous attack.

"This is totally hypocritical on the party of the Liberal Democrats and Nicol Stephen must issue an immediate apology."

jamie stone
It is arguable that all over the world, it is unfortunate that nationalism can sometimes overlap with xenophobia
Jamie Stone

Mr Stone, the MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, said he had not described any individual member of the SNP as being xenophobic.

"I have very good friends in the party for whom I have the very greatest respect," he said.

"Nevertheless it is arguable that all over the world, it is unfortunate that nationalism can sometimes overlap with xenophobia.

"But if the word has caused any personal offence, then I will have no hesitation in withdrawing it immediately."

Mr Stone went on: "Using different language, it remains the case that I do not believe in independence but as Nicol Stephen put it, interdependence - Scotland working with England, Europe and the world.

"We are one people on one earth and I do not believe that separation is the correct way to go forward with we have to tackle some of the global problems like terrorism or global warming."

On Saturday, Mr Stephen won applause from Lib Dem delegates when he ruled out any "back door" route to independence through a referendum.

This would block the possibility of a coalition deal with the SNP after the Holyrood elections in May.

Jamie Stone MSP describes the SNP as xenophobic

Lib Dems attack election rivals
16 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Lib Dem leader rules out SNP deal
23 Jan 07 |  Scotland

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